NHL 2023: 8 Takeaways from Last Season

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nhl 2023
James Marvin Phelps

The NHL 2023 season recently ended as the Vegas Golden Knights bagged their first-ever Stanley Cup win. Here are 8 takeaways from the season.

The NHL 2023 season came to a close on Wednesday, June 14, as the Las Vegas Golden Knights beat the Florida Panthers 9-3 to tie up the Stanley Cup Finals with a 4-1 series win. The historic night played host to the Golden Knights first-ever Stanley Cup win, just six years after the franchise was founded. 

Vegas was among some of the preseason picks to win the Stanley Cup, which included the Colorado Avalanche, Toronto Maple Leafs and even the Panthers themselves favored above them. NHL odds have the Edmonton Oilers as favorites to hoist the Cup next season, but the Vegas Knights are still up there among some of the best teams in the league.

After yet another thrilling season there is still plenty to talk about. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest takeaways from the NHL 2023 season.

Connor McDavid: The Best in the World (Still)

There is still no doubt that Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavid is the best player in the league. His performance, speed and agility are at a level above contemporaries, and he is the opposition defense’s worst nightmare. He finished the regular season as the scoring leader and demonstrated why so many are putting him in the conversation for GOAT once his career has wrapped up. The end-of-season awards recently announced that once again McDavid has claimed the Hart Memorial Trophy, for the third time in his career.

The Golden Knights: They Have Arrived

It was not all that long ago that hockey fans were almost unanimously supporting Vegas due to their underdog status. In their inaugural season they reached the Stanley Cup Final with a team full of castoffs, losing 4-1 to the Washington Capitals. At the time many believed that to be somewhat of an anomaly season, but five years later the Golden Knights came back with a vengeance. They won in impressive fashion, announcing to the rest of the league that the Knights are a formidable opponent and are here to stay for the foreseeable future.

NHL 2023 Game Attendance Was Up

The regular season saw 22.4 million spectators flock to rinks around the US and Canada this past season. This bump in attendance amounted to a 7.9% increase from the prior season and is a very encouraging trend for the sport, which has rebounded well after COVID restrictions hampered game attendance for so long. 

Rule Changes: A Work in Progress

For the 2022-23 NHL season, referees were given the power of expanded video review. The rule states, “The Referee shall have the following options after video review of his own call: (i) confirming his original Major Penalty call; (ii) reducing his original Major Penalty call to a lesser penalty; or (iii) rescinding the original Major Penalty altogether.” Some have felt that this has lengthened games unnecessarily, however the league’s 32 general managers gathered recently and agreed to keep the rule while information and study were still being gathered.

Younger Players in the Spotlight

The NHL 2023 season that just past confirmed that the future of the NHL is in good hands. The performances of Cale Makar, James Robertson and Jack Hughes were most impressive, with the 22-year-old Hughes enjoying his best season so far with the New Jersey Devils. The center ended the regular season with 99 points overall.

Jim Montgomery: The Best Coach in the League

Montgomery has had an incredible story this season. After being fired by the Dallas Stars during the 2019-20 season, he entered rehab for alcohol abuse. Following an inspiring recovery he landed the job as head coach of the Boston Bruins for the beginning of the season, going on a terrific run and finishing 65-12-5 in the regular season. The Bruins may have bowed out in the first round of the Cup finals, but after reaching them without the contributions of Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy for a considerable number of games, you can see just how much of a tactical coach Montgomery is.

Investment in the NHL: Interest is High

There were a considerable number of high-profile investment opportunities in the league this year. A-listers such as Snoop Dogg, The Weeknd and Ryan Reynolds all made bids to become the new owners of the Ottawa Senators, although Michael Andlauer won the right to take over ownership of the team. He is reportedly paying $950M for a 90% stake of the Senators, while Anna and Olivia Melnyk, daughters of late Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, will retain a 10% interest in the club.

Andlauer, 57, is the founder and CEO of Andlauer Healthcare Group. He is also the founder of Bulldog Capital Partners, as well as the sole owner of the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs (Andlauer has also been a minority owner of the Montreal Canadiens since 2009). Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner, has maintained that a condition of the sale was that the team must remain in Ottawa.

The Tampa Bay Lightning is also set to sell a minority stake at a record $1.4 billion. This activity along with Stan Kroenke’s investment in the San Diego area is a great thing for the sport and signals some incredible growth opportunities. 

The Content Strategy Has Evolved

The NHL has pounced on trends better than ever and it was no more evident than in the buildup to the Stanley Cup finals. The league had live and on-demand content available on their YouTube, TikTok and Instagram channels. While maybe not all that interesting to older fans, this is a great hook for grabbing the younger demographic and it is encouraging to see the NHL attempt to secure the future of the league’s fanbase.

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